Stop the insults

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FOR a couple of weeks now we have watched our political leaders insult and tear each other apart.
The opposition says it is not happy with the continued occupation of higher office by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
The opposition says Mosisili, who has been in power since 1998 and is serving his third term, has over-stayed.
Mosisili has refused to take the criticism lying down. In fact, he has come out with guns blazing telling the opposition to go hang.
The verbal exchanges have been fierce.
Our only gripe with the current exchanges is that politicians could be blowing away a golden opportunity for national dialogue.
The truth of the matter is that as Basotho we need a platform to debate the issue of the prime minister’s succession.
But we cannot make real progress when we reduce such an important topic to the level of insults about each other’s age as if age alone is the only determinant for good governance.
The future of Lesotho is too important to be reduced to such levels of shallow debate.
We are alarmed that our politicians want to reduce such an important issue which has serious implications for our democracy to a shouting match where one who shouts loudest is regarded as the winner.
We cannot deepen our democracy when we shout and insult each other like what has been happening over the past few weeks.
The result is that we risk creating a poisoned political atmosphere that does little to enhance our nascent democracy.
We are not suggesting that there should be political unanimity across party lines on every major issue in the country. Such hopes are simply utopian.
If we have understood the opposition well their central argument is that Mosisili has been in power for too long.
They are arguing that after serving three terms it is now time for him to pass the baton.
Predictably Mosisili’s ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party has rejected the opposition’s demand.
The LCD says the issue of when and how Mosisili steps down is none of the opposition’s business.
The truth of the matter is that Mosisili as prime minister is answerable to the electorate who might not even be members of his own party.
The LCD runs the risk of reducing a crucial national issue to a narrow party issue.
We are of the firm view that the LCD should not be allowed to determine and monopolise debate over when Mosisili will step down.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong in the opposition and civil society raising issues regarding the prime minister’s succession.
We have always thought that the prime minister is viewed as a larger-than-life character within his own party.
As leader Mosisili exercises a vice-like grip on party structures.
With the hegemony that he exercises within LCD structures it is only Mosisili himself who will certainly decide when and how he will step down.
We would be surprised if there is anyone within the LCD who can raise the issue within the party’s structures.
This is the reason why we say the LCD alone cannot and should not be allowed to monopolise debate over the prime minister’s succession issue.
In most enlightened democracies it has virtually become the norm for political parties to set up term limits for leaders.
The idea is to stem the sterility of ideas that normally creeps in after one has been in office for years.
Term limits allow for proper planning within political parties.
They also encourage an element of predictability within parties.
The result in most cases has been the creation of stable political systems.
Succession planning is the hallmark of all successful organisations.
We think Basotho have a right to know when the prime minister will step down.
The issues that we have raised in this editorial are quite sensitive and can touch the raw nerve.
But it is not treasonous to raise these issues. We would have failed as the media if we do not raise these issues for national debate.
The debate should not be restricted to the ruling party.
We expect vigorous debate on the same issue of succession within the opposition movement.
There are also opposition leaders who have been at the helm of their parties since their formation years ago and want to remain at the helm till kingdom come.

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